So the Super Bowl was yesterday and blah blah blah. I may offend many of my fellow Americans when I say this, but what the hell is with everyone and football? Grown men darting around in Spanx, fighting to the death over a charmingly-named “pig skin”, bashing heads like they’re auditioning for Braveheart? Um, hello?
Also known as: Mexican wedding cookies, cocoons, snowballs, and probably twenty-seven different other names the world over, but to me they are just “Further proof that lots of butter means a tasty, delicious snack.” No one really seems to know where they actually come from, but the fact remains: they are one of the most popular holiday cookies across Amuuurica and most definitely my favorite (hint: you may make them for me. In double batches. Thanks much.)
If you’re looking for a simple, easy cookie that will have you covered head-to-toe in powdered sugar goodness and a grin from ear-to-ear, you’ve come to the right place. Not so much if you have a nut allergy– then you’ll be lying in anaphylactic shock on floor gasping for Benadryl.
My mom and I do a big holiday baking extravaganza every year and I usually end up sneaking about 12 of these when she’s not looking. I think I’m super clever, but powdered sugar face always gives me away in the end.
Russian Tea Cookies
3 sticks butter, softened
3 T powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 t salt
3 c flour, sifted thoroughly
2 c finely chopped pecans, walnuts, or your nut of choice.
For finishing: 2-4 c powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a standing or electric mixer, cream the butter and the 3 T sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour, salt, and nuts and mix until combined and no flour remains. You may have to turn the mixture over with a spatula, to get any wayward flour up from the bottom of the bowl. With your hands, form 1″-balls and place on the baking sheets, about 2″ apart. (As you can see from the above, I did some in the “cocoon” shape before switching to balls, which were much easier and didn’t fall apart). Press down slightly with the palm of your hand and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until slightly brown around the edges. Be careful not to over cook them– they burn quickly! Prepare another baking sheet by placing the finishing powdered sugar on it in a single layer. When the cookies are done, let them cool for a minute or two and then place them on the powdered sugar baking sheet. Turn each cookie to coat in the sugar and then let sit for about 15 minutes. Turn once more to coat again, adding sugar if necessary. Eat with gusto.
My Aunt makes the best damn toffee in the world. True story.
Last year I thought to myself, “This can’t be that hard! I’ll just find a recipe and make some that will be just as good as hers.” Which I did. And do you know what that toffee did? Do you?
It ripped a crown right off one of my mom’s teeth. Poor woman put all this trust in her daughter to not feed her harmful substances and what did it get her? A giant dental bill right at Christmas.
And it didn’t even taste that great.
So this year, I took no chances. My dear Aunt sent along the recipe of non-dangerous, uber-tasty toffee and sha-zam. No harm to anyone’s chompers!
Butter Crunch Toffee
from Auntie Ba
2 sticks salted butter (MUST be salted)
1 c white sugar
1 T water
1/2 package chocolate chips (semi sweet, milk, dark, whatever your preference)
1 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 c EXTRA finely chopped walnuts or pecansLine a 13 x 9″ pan with parchment paper. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat. Turn to high and add the sugar and water, stirring constantly for about 3-5 minutes, or until toffee colored. It may smoke a bit and smell like it’s burning, but it won’t be. Just don’t let it get TOO dark brown! Remove from heat and add 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts. Stir thoroughly and pour into the prepared pan and spread the mixture with a spatula. Sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips and let sit for a minute. Once they get a bit melty, spread with a knife until smooth and even. Sprinkle with the extra finely chopped nuts and press down gently. Refrigerate until hard, about 30 minutes. Crack into pieces with a knife or your hands, then eat!